My mom always said you have your place in this world, you just have to find it. Back then I could care less, a kid in 2030 couldn’t care less about what’s around him. I’m now 23 and have a low paying job in a restaurant as a waiter. My names Henry but people call me Carbon, likely because my last name Carlbonia. And that is hard to pronounce. I live in the Federation, a free country built on rights and morals. Also one of the biggest nation on this planet, called Zel. There’s a problem with this planet, half of it is a deserted wasteland. Meaning there is never enough resources or land to go around. Something I didn’t know at the time was the events that followed were going to change my life forever.
“WAKE UP!!!” said my mom as she always has to wake me up. “YOU’RE GOING TO BE LATE, AND YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU’RE LATE A THIRD TIME!” she said.
Being late for a third time lands you in the unemployment line in this restaurant. I got my job back once because i begged, but that’s beside the point. As I scramble to get ready my mom starts talking about when I will get a life and leave the house.
“So honey when are you going to get out of my hair for good, I’m getting old you know.”
“We’ve gone over this mom” I say in a half awake, half annoyed at the fact she’s going over this again. “I’m going into the military, but there’s no openings now.”
It’s always been a dream of mine to be part of the Rhino squad, a group of elite soldiers that are the best in the world.
“Well, take a look at this.” she grabs her tablet to show me the news.
It reads : “Zilean’s and Confederate of Electronics (CoE) new treaty, could this mean another war?”
The Zilean’s, the scum of this planet, look like giant bugs that mutated. And the CoE are robots, human-like but metallic and built to kill. The creator of these death bots was a well-known scientist in the Federation. But he went crazy, built these death-bots and tried to take over the country.
“You should talk to uncle Tom about it.”
He’s not actually anybodies uncle, but is friends with pretty much everyone in the town.
“I’ll call in sick for today, and go see him this might be my chance.” I say.
So I head down to his house, this might get me fired, but this might be my only chance to do what I love. Realizing that I’m talking out loud to myself I stop talking all together.
“Hey Tom!, how’s it going?!” I say yelling at him from across his yard.
He doesn’t do much of anything since he retired from the military. But he does hang out with his best friend, the General. They fought together in World War IV when the CoE first attacked 30 years ago.
“Not too good.” he says in his raspy, old sounding voice. “You know about the treaty that recently happened right? Well those bug ******** are preparing for war, even though that’s a direct violation of the peace treaty.”
“You look worried.” I say worried myself, I’ve never seen Tom worried or show much emotion at all.
“Well the General and I have talked and agreed that we’re not ready for another war. The country is still recovering from the last one.”
He was talking about the Great War of 2005 that ended less than 5 years ago. It was when the CoE was in its infant stage pumping out thousands of death-machines. Back then there was another major civilization called the Gur. Gur was a peaceful country, but a powerful one at that. They controlled half the planet, which was, for the most part all desert. But they had a huge civil war. Half of the Gur wanted to be with us, the Federation. But the other half wanted to be part of the new CoE which promised land and money if they joined. The Gur had massive nuclear reactors, and nuclear missiles. But they never used the missiles, and they used the reactors to power their massive empire. The war was going on for twenty years at this point, and both sides were running low on men and willpower. Somebody thought the only way to win was through the use of the nuclear missiles. They destroyed themselves in under 2 days.
“Is there any way I can join the Rhino squad now?” I ask.
“You make me laugh sometimes. You need at least 5 years of training, or fifteen years of combat. You would make a good captain though” he replied.
“Alright I guess.”
He was right though, I have always been a leader among my small group of friends.
“Take this.” he hands me a piece of paper “Give that to the general it will help you.”
“Thanks, what is it?”
“It’s a leadership badge.”
“Really, you would give this to me?” I say in amazement.
A leadership badge is a slip of paper signifying that a general or somebody important saw talent in you. Giving you a better chance of getting accepted.
“Yes now go, and be careful, war is ****.”
I head to the main training base for the army to sign up. When I get there there’s a huge line of people volunteering, signing up, or in the draft. So I wait for 3 long hours in the hot sun, all the way thinking to myself if I should turn back now. I finally get to the front of the line. I’ve never seen the general until now, but I have heard countless amazing stories from Uncle Tom. He’s what you would expect a general to look like, tall, muscular, has short hair, and a face that looks like it’s been through **** and back.
His voice actually scared me even though I knew he was going to say it. I walk up.
“Name, profession, and what do you want to be son”
He seems actually nicer than I’ve heard.
“Henry Carlbonia, I work at a restaurant, and I would like to become a captain.” I say nervously.
He smiled when I said captain, obviously he didn’t think I was captain material. I hand him the slip sealed in the old envelope.
“What is this, blackmail?” he asked in a joking manner.
“What? N…no sir. It’s a leadership badge. Uncle Tom gave it to me.” I said not realizing he was joking.
“Really? How’s he doing I’ve been too busy to check if the old man is still alive.”
The general sure looked and sounded like he was busy. He had a raspy voice and that drooped look you have on your face when you’re so tired you can hardly walk. Yet he still had a kick in his voice.
“No umms, umm is not an answer” he cuts me off “You need to be decisive”
“H…he’s doing well.” Sounding tough is harder than it seems.
“Better, COMMANDER JESSIE ATTENTION!” his voice so loud I jumped and my ears start ringing.
“Sir yes sir.” a fit, young man marches up to the general, and stands at attention waiting for an order.
“At ease, show this man around and get him ready for training tomorrow with the level 1 captains.”
“Sir yes sir, come with me please.” says Jessie
We walked past the guards and the three layers of electrified fence.
“So what’s your name greenie?” he asked half not caring.
“H…Henry Carlb…” he cut me off again.
“Stop stuttering that’s how you get scolded. It shows nervousness and weakness.” he said in a tone that made me think he was angry at me. “Anyways Henry, welcome to **** where you’re pushed to your limits and then some. To see if your captain material…. Whatever you do, don’t talk back.”
“Yes sir.” I said it, not fully paying attention.
“Look i’m trying to help you, if you don’t want my help that’s fine but good luck…..Also it’s sir yes sir.”
“Sorry” I felt a little bad now.
He showed me around the rest of the compound, which took twenty long minutes.
Once the tour was complete he took me to the captain training area.
“…And this is where you’re going to live for the next month. Well, I’ve got to go, so I’m going to give you to Larry over there. He’s going to be your commander..”
I walk up and right away he looks at me in disgust.
“What?” Larry asks not caring about me or my answer.
“Sir Henry Carlbonia, here to learn how to be a captain sir.”
“Well i’m going to be your teacher, do what I say and you’ll be fine.” he said in a lighter tone now. “Your barracks number is A3 over there in the corner. Good luck, you’ll need it.”